Difficult People: Why They Happen And 3 Ways To Deal With Them

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We all face difficult people at certain points of our work life.

Some would say that it’s inevitable. The world is full of difficult people.

You just want to get the job done. You just want things to move forward.

And yet, there they are. The roadblock to the progress of your project. Talking about things they clearly have no knowledge about. Giving you more problems than you should be facing.

Difficult people usually put a halt to the progress of the project

Oh, how much easier life would be if they would just shut up and do their jobs.

But the sad reality is that we just can’t avoid them. The world is not made up of people who thinks and acts like us. We can’t expect to get along with every single person we meet. We can’t expect that everybody will agree to everything you say or every opinion you have.

Difficult people can potentially bring out the worst in us. But we shouldn’t allow that to happen.

Difficult people should not have the power to dictate how we act and feel throughout the rest of our day.

We are, after all, only humans. We only have that much energy to spare. We have to pick our battles and determine what’s worth our time and energy, and what’s not.

Although I understand that sometimes it just isn’t that easy to remain sane, I’m going to go ahead and offer 3 useful tips to deal with the undesirable situations (read: people) that is bound to happen again sooner than you’d anticipated.

Deal With The Task, Not Difficult People

You’re in a meeting. You can’t understand why they just don’t see your point. It’s common sense what you’re saying. And the solution they are pitching is plain stupid! Voices are raised, faces are red. How can you possibly proceed from here?

When things start getting out of hand, one way to quickly overcome the difficult situation is to focus on the task on hand, not on the person.

I know it’s not easy. Your solution is clearly the most appropriate. You are a part of this project and you’d want nothing but the best for it. Why can’t they see your reasons? Why can’t they agree with you?

When your mind starts being clouded with these questions, stop yourself.

Take a deep breath. Remind yourself that ultimately, you guys are on the same team. You have the same shared goal of getting this project to succeed. They do not have bad intentions. In fact, it is precisely because they care for this project that they’d feel so strongly for their solutions. Remind yourself that you guys shouldn’t be fighting against each other. You guys should be fighting alongside each other to tackle the task on hand instead.

Remember that at the end of the day, you guys are allies, not enemies. 

Don’t Take Everything Personally

This is very important. It might not be easy, but trust me, it is definitely important.

Sometimes words that are being exchanged can sound harsh. They may sound seemingly directed at you. In fact, everything they say sound like personal attacks ABOUT you.

When this happens,  you know it’s time to take a time out.

Don't pay attention to the negativity by difficult people

Take a breather. Step away from the situation and reassess before you react. What does it all really mean? Are they really criticising you? Or are they actually just talking about the work on hand? Are they just saying that you’re bad at your job? Or are they trying to recommend ways that could help you do even better? Is this even worth your time to begin with?

Sometimes we’re so much in our own heads, we become extra aware of our flaws or weaknesses. So much so that whatever someone else says about us sound like direct criticisms to those flaws and weaknesses.

Remind yourself that sometimes the things going on in your head, really only exist in your head. The next time you’re in a conversation with a moron, try and detach yourself from those negative thoughts about yourself to begin with so you have a lesser tendency to take everything personally.

Remember that the comments or criticisms shared by others are not necessarily about you. People really couldn’t care less about you as a person, so don’t flatter yourself. But people do care about the work they are involved in. And those comments and criticisms are meant to improve the work, and only the work itself.

Manage Your Expectations

We cannot control who we will eventually meet or work with. We cannot control what they do or say. But we can definitely control how we react and respond. And one thing we can control is our expectations.

Managing our expectations allows us to better predict what’s coming our way. It helps us anticipate what unbelievable things will be said, and it helps us be better prepared for it. The reason we get so frustrated or upset in the first place is because of the big difference between what we expect and what reality is.

By managing our expectations, we can be better prepared to react more graciously to the unbelievable things we know we are about to hear.

Manage your expectations when you're dealing with difficult people

One way to better manage our expectations is by understanding our Strengths. Different people have different Strengths and talents, and the way we do or approach things is bound to differ in one way or another.  Understanding our Strengths reveals to us the reasons behind the actions. It helps us better understand each other’s thought processes. It helps us know what to expect because we can better understand the way they think, feel and behave. And it can even help us leverage on each other’s differences!

If All Else Fails…

If all else fails, take a deep breath, smile, and excuse yourself. Sometimes, all we really need is a break from the situation. Come back to the project again tomorrow when your mind is clearer. Handle it when you are ready!

Remember, we cannot control who we meet, or what others do or say. It is impossible to hide from people we don’t like, and there will always be people like that at any one point of our lives.

But we CAN control what we do and how we react. We CAN choose not to give them the power to ruin our day.

If you’re currently facing conflicts with difficult people and you’re hoping for some change, then we want to speak to you.

You can also download the free Engaging Teams Guide down below for more great tips like this article provides.

Aly is StrengthsAsia’s marketing and communications guru and lead editor. She's over the top inquisitive and everyone in the company knows her as “The Googler” as she practically googles everything. Honestly, we all worry for her… She is also the Principal Trainer for our one of a kind ice cream team building workshops in Asia.

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